Key to implementing a study reward system : And why you should consider trying it out
By Patrick de Kretser
It is often a daunting prospect to try and keep yourself constantly motivated during your study hours, especially if you consider yourself to be someone who does not do well at retaining focus without getting distracted. In order to win this battle of attrition with your own mind, you need to find a way to give yourself a psychological edge over the other side of you that wants you to give up and stop trying.
When it comes to adopting a positive routine that will prove to be beneficial to your studying habits, there are fewer ways to go about it.
The “study reward system” concept is simple in its definition, you basically establish a system where you reward yourself in various ways depending on how much work you manage to complete in a given day or week. Teachers often adopt this kind of system to reward children in grade school as well. Perhaps you may remember a time when a teacher gave you a sweet or a gold star for your exceptional work rate in the classroom one day, which motivated you to keep doing well in order to receive more rewards in the future. Well, that same principle can be applied here as well.
However, everything is easier said than done. Simply thinking about the idea of adopting a routine does not mean it will necessarily succeed in practice. You might have experienced a frustration like that in the past, when you tried to start journal writing or keep flash cards around but failed to commit to the task and ended up slumping back into your usual routine without making any real progress. If that is the case with you, you do not have anything to fear. It is completely natural to experience difficulties like that and you can change them given the right approach.
When it comes to a study reward system, I think you need an essential ingredient present in order to make sure you get this done the right way. If you have trouble trusting yourself to commit to a routine, then it is advisable to involve someone else in this process so that they can keep track of your progress and motivate you to stay committed to your routine. If you have a parent, sibling, friend, or a significant other who you can entrust with this task, then that will work best. Better yet, you can also find another study buddy to join you in trying out a study reward system so that you can both be each other’s motivation to stay focused.
I am a big advocate for collaborating with other people when studying because that usually yields the best results for me, so that is why a lot of my advice so far revolves around having someone else involved in your routine as well. Of course, this is not an essential requirement. If you can motivate yourself to stick to a routine without anybody else present, then you can still apply some of the ideas I am about to list down below without any issue.
Now that you are ready and set to carry out this process, what should the rewards be for your study system? I have a few options listed out below, which will be easy or hard to implement depending on the person. Of course, you do not necessarily have to follow every single recommendation on this list if you do not want to. However, they are helpful guidelines which I too use at times when I choose to study as well, so you might find these quite useful if you put in the effort to apply them.
- The sweet tooth reward
We enjoyed receiving sweets as rewards when we were younger, so why should it be any different now? This is a simple concept everyone should have little difficulty in trying out since it does not take that much effort or commitment. Basically, designate yourself with a certain amount of work you need to do in a given hour or day and then reward yourself with your favourite sweet snack or beverage at the end of it. For example, I promise myself a hot chocolate after I complete my quota of studying and exercise every day so that I can look forward to enjoying it once that time comes around. It works for me really well because I willingly do not indulge in sweets most of the time, hence why the only time I enjoy a hot chocolate is after a day of work.
- The Netflix and gaming reward
I realise the title of this one does not sound as snazzy as simply saying “the Netflix and chill reward”, but I figured it would be important to also incorporate video games into this recommendation since it is pretty much the same thing. Basically, we all know that one of the biggest distractions we face at home is the urge to watch something on Netflix or to boot up Warzone and play a few games there. Even without a study reward system, it is important to not let these activities get out of hand simply because of how damaging that can be to our studies. So essentially, the solution is simple. Tell yourself to fulfil a certain quota of work every day or week and then allow yourself to relax watching Netflix. Yes, I realise that this may seem really hard to commit to at first. But tell yourself this: Would watching Netflix not feel so much better if I feel like I earned it?
- The socialising reward
It is especially important to stay in contact with your friends and family, given the pandemic that we are going through right now. However, social media in particular can be quite a distraction if you allow it to constantly distract you all the time. After all, nothing is more distracting to your study routine than seeing that phone notification pop up on your screen, informing you that one of your friends has just sent you a string of messages on WhatsApp. So like the previous recommendation, the key here is moderation. If you find this to be challenging, you can always ask your friends to help you stay off your phone and other devices in order to concentrate on your routine. For example, I have this routine where I tell one of my best friends to remind me to stay focused on my task and to not talk to them until I have completed all I need to do in a given day. It is quite useful, and as I said earlier, involving your friends could be very beneficial to pulling off an effective study reward system.
However, you need to remember that while one of the fundamental rules of this system is to put more pressure and incentivise yourself to do more work, it is almost important to not go overboard with this. The problem we always find ourselves in with any routine is that we put too much pressure too early on, which ends up stressing us out. Do not feel at any point that you should race against the clock in order to treat yourself to those much-desired rewards you seek, because that will only serve to bring about more harm than good at the end of the day.
Remember, the best way to do this effectively is to collaborate with other people. That way, you will find yourself committing to your new routine with ease and you will also have your friends around so that they can make sure that you do not put too much pressure on yourself. Hopefully, this strategy will work for you as well as it does for me.
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